Insect antennae II.

Adult insects rely on their antennae to detect odours (smells!) which tell them all about what’s happening in their neighbourhood. Whether there is anything to eat nearby; whether there are any members of the opposite sex looking for a partner; who else is about, and so on. They wave their wonderful wands around and pick…

Flies and flowers

Bees get a lot of good press these days, especially for their role as pollinators. And let’s face it, they deserve it! Hard working, unassuming, attractive and useful! They are almost supplanting those poster boys and girls of the insect world: butterflies! But what about flies? Their press is a mixed bag. To some people…

Seaweed flies

The equinoctial gales washed up lots of nice kelp onto the beaches of Scarborough this year (below). The piles of seaweed were gradually pushed up the beach by the incoming tides, eventually accumulating beyond the strand-line, where it slowly decays and eventually dries out. This gift from the sea is a wonderful bounty which is…

Iridescence in insects

Iridescence is when surfaces – such as the wings of butterflies – appear to change brightness and colour as the angle of view, or the angle of illumination, changes. The iridescent wings of Morpho butterflies are some of the best examples. The spectral reflectance changes with the angle of incidence – i.e. the viewing angle…

Flies blowing bubbles

The first time I saw a fly with a droplet of water protruding from it’s mouth (or the tip of the proboscis) I was quite surprised. Why would a fly be blowing bubbles like this? It turns out that flies do this to cool down!  They move a droplet of fluid in and out and…